Gene Test Helps Tailor Breast Cancer Chemotherapy

03.26.10 | FL News Team

Scientists say they have a new way to determine which breast cancer patients will respond well to treatment with a common class of chemotherapy drugs. It means doctors should be able to test individuals and customize their treatment, thus avoiding giving them toxic drugs which will not help their condition. The findings were presented yesterday at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Spain. The researchers found that an abnormality on chromosome 17, or CEP17, is what they call a "highly significant indicator" that a tumor will respond to chemotherapy drugs called anthracyclines. They are anti-tumor antibiotics that inhibit enzymes involved in DNA replication. Patients with CEP17 stood about a two-thirds more likely chance to survive if treated with anthracyclines, and to survive without a recurrence of cancer, than those not treated with anthracyclines. Study leader, John Bartlett of Britain's Edinburgh University, says the research suggests that only patients with CEP17 tumors should receive anthracyclines.